Comparing First & Business Class On The Emirates A380

Comparing First & Business Class On The Emirates A380

29

I’ve flown Emirates’ A380 well over a dozen times, almost exclusively in first class. I’ve reviewed Emirates first class on many routes, including from London to Dubai, Singapore to Dubai, Dubai to London, Los Angeles to Dubai, Dubai to Singapore, Dallas to Dubai, and Dubai to Manchester.

Well, I recently flew Emirates A380 business class for the first time from Dubai to Los Angeles. While I’ll have a full trip report shortly, some readers asked if I could do a side-by-side comparison of Emirates’ first and business class product, which is what this post is about.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-01

Is there actually a big difference between Emirates first and business class? Here are my thoughts:

Emirates A380 seats

Emirates has 14 first class suites on the A380, each featuring direct aisle access. The suites are incredibly blinged out and comfortable, though they’re definitely on the tight side as far as A380 first class seats go. Personally I don’t mind one bit, but the product isn’t as spacious as Etihad’s A380 first class, for example.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-001
Emirates-A380-First-Class-003

Meanwhile Emirates’ A380 business class features direct aisle access from every seat as well, and quite a bit of privacy. If you can snag one of the best seats (specifically, a “true” window seat), you’ll have a lot of privacy as well.

emirates-a380-business-class-1
emirates-a380-business-class-3

So the first class seat is of course better than the business class seat, but I actually found the business class seat to be extremely comfortable, especially thanks to the bins along the side of the aircraft, which are great for storing things.

Emirates food

This is probably what surprised me most — when it comes down to it, the food in first and business class isn’t that different.

Yes, in first class there’s a caviar course.

Emirates-First-Class - 26

And yes, the first class mezze is a lot more impressive than the business class mezze.

Emirates-First-Class - 31
emirates-business-class-a380-57

But other than that, I found the food remarkably similar. Most of the main dishes are actually the same in first and business class, but they’re just plated differently.

emirates-business-class-a380-61

The same is true for dessert, cheese plates, cappuccinos, etc.

emirates-business-class-a380-62

The major difference is that in first class you have dine on demand and a more extensive menu, where you can eat what you want when you want. Meanwhile in business class you have to eat the main meals when they’re served, and don’t have much flexibility.

So first class certainly has some nice touches and added flexibility, but in terms of actual quality (aside from caviar), I didn’t find there to be that much of a difference.

Emirates drinks

Emirates is known for their ridiculous first class drink selection. They serve Dom Perignon, and also serve Hennessy Paradis, which is the most expensive drink in the sky.

Emirates-First-Class-A380-43

However, in business class they have Veuve Clicquot, and an all around impressive selection of liquor.

emirates-business-class-a380-54

The first class drink selection is certainly more over the top, though you won’t go thirsty in business class either. 😉

Emirates service

This is perhaps the biggest point of differentiation. Let me start by saying that I find service on Emirates to be somewhat inconsistent — sometimes you get an incredible crew which couldn’t be more proactive, while other times you get a lazy crew.

However, in theory first class service is fully customized. You get what you want when you want.

In business class service feels like an assembly line. That’s probably what disappointed me most about Emirates business class. While the crew was friendly, you’re served during the meal times, and if you want one of the main meals at another point, you’re out of luck. The service is so systematic and robotic that it almost feels like economy.

Again, this has nothing to do with the friendliness of the crew, but rather with how robotic the procedures are. Emirates has room for improvement in this regard, given that Etihad and Qatar offer dine on demand in business class.

So I think this is a huge point of differentiation.

Emirates A380 entertainment and Wi-Fi

This is identical in first and business class (and even economy). Emirates has the best entertainment selection in the sky, with so many movies, games, TV shows, etc.

emirates-business-class-a380-88

Emirates also offers 500MB of Wi-Fi for $1 in all cabins. While I appreciate the concept, the Wi-Fi is so excruciatingly slow that it’s almost useless.

Emirates amenity kits, bedding, etc.

In terms of bedding, there’s a huge difference between first and business class. In first class you get a proper turndown service with two pillows, a great mattress pad, and a comfortable duvet.

Emirates-First-Class-A380-15

In business class you get a single pillow and a basic blanket.

emirates-business-class-a380-19

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still be able to sleep well, but it’s not quite like sleeping in a bed on the ground.

In terms of other amenities, Emirates has fantastic pajamas and amenity kits in first class. They actually recently updated them even further, and now have the world’s first “moisturizing” pajamas.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-019

In business class Emirates offers a nice amenity kit with Bulgari amenities, though no pajamas.

emirates-business-class-a380-24

I do wish Emirates would improve their business class bedding and maybe even add pajamas (as Qatar Airways offers in business class), but ultimately none of this is the end of the world.

Emirates airport lounges

At outstations, Emirates doesn’t differentiate between first and business class for lounges. Their lounges are a shared space for all premium passengers, so there’s no difference.

Emirates-Lounge-LAX-Airport-04

In Dubai, Emirates has separate first and business class lounges, though the differences aren’t huge. In the “A” concourse the lounges are roughly the same size and have similar decor. The major difference is that the first class lounge has a la carte dining, while the business class lounge only has a buffet.

Emirates-First-Class-Lounge-Dubai-68

First class passengers are also entitled to a complimentary 15 minute treatment in the Timeless Spa, while business class passengers have to pay for treatments.

Emirates-First-Class-Lounge-Dubai-63

Emirates A380 amenities

Probably my single favorite thing about the Emirates A380 is the shower suite, which is available to first class passengers. If you’re an airline geek and haven’t yet showered on a plane, you’re really missing out. Okay, admittedly it’s just a five minute shower, but still, there’s something amazing about it.

Emirates-Shower

My other favorite amenity on the A380 is the onboard bar, located at the back of business class. It’s shared between first and business class, and is such a fun place to hang out. Often when I’m in first class I’ll spend half my time there, though almost feel like it’s a “waste,” since I could spend my time there when in business class as well.

emirates-business-class-a380-68

Bottom line

Emirates’ A380 first class product is one of my favorite in the world, so it was interesting to see how their business class compared. I simultaneously think there are big differences between the two products, and also think a lot of things are very similar.

What stands out about first class? The service, the bedding, the pajamas, the improved drink selection, the caviar, and the shower.

What’s more or less the same? The food, a private seat that’s comfortable for sleeping and relaxing, access to the awesome onboard bar, entertainment, Wi-Fi, etc.

So I do certainly have a strong preference for Emirates first class, though it’s possible to get great sleep in business class, and also have a lot of fun thanks to the onboard bar.

Of course there’s still something really fun about Emirates first class — it’s one of the most well rounded first class products out there. So while it’s worth the premium if you swing it, you won’t be bored in business class either.

Conversations (29)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Benjamin Guest

    I actually see some of the things missing in Business Class as an advantage. Turn down service for example is the first thing that I cancel at arrival of a hotel that has it included. I would never wear a pyjama in a room full of strangers. I also would never eat caviar and never drink alcohol. So whenever expensive alcohol is included in a price of a flight, I feel like subsidizing the drinking...

    I actually see some of the things missing in Business Class as an advantage. Turn down service for example is the first thing that I cancel at arrival of a hotel that has it included. I would never wear a pyjama in a room full of strangers. I also would never eat caviar and never drink alcohol. So whenever expensive alcohol is included in a price of a flight, I feel like subsidizing the drinking habits of others with my ticket. The same is true for Formula One Paddock Club tickets, where unlimited champagne is included. I also prefer scheduled meals, because I do not want to bother the flight crew more than necessary and I do not think that my private eating schedule would be better than the official schedule. The problem with higher flight classes often is that they serve too much food. Flying First Class or Business Class does not mean that I am more hungry than people in Economy Class. Quality of the food should separate the classes, not quantity. The problem gets worse if you already ate something in a lounge at the airport.

    I once told a friend how my optimal flight class would look like: First Class space, Business Class food and Economy Class service. Less service is usually better. I only choose hotels for example that have at least one entrance where nobody opens the door for me. Maybe when I am older and need more help, I will appreciate service more, but at my current age I would prefer if the crew just left me two liters of water to self serve and only contacts me for meals. The creepiest thing of many First Class and even some Business Class seats is that the crew will greet you with your name. I don't want the crew to know my name. "24 J" is good enough as a name for me during a flight. The second creepiest thing is some personal service at arrival. I love standing at the baggage carousel and waiting for my luggage. As long as I can walk on my own, I do not need anybody to get me my luggage. And please, I do not want a separate check-in line for Business and First Class passengers! I feel exposed at such a line.

    What bothers me a lot is that there is only one lavatory in the front of Business Class and four at the back behind the bar. I need a lavatory at least once an hour and always look at ways to hide that fact. Of course it is nothing to be ashamed of, but it still is something I prefer to keep private, because I still often get strange looks if I use the toilet very frequently. If four of five toilets are only accessible through the bar, that makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Even Economy Class has more privacy in that regard.

    I still hope that one day an airline will mix seats of all classes. That would be the optimal solution for people like me who just want more space than in Economy Class, but without all the bling and the extra service. Somebody else might be okay with the Economy Class space, but might want better food and extra services at the airport. I also would prefer to be surrounded by average people during my flight and not just business people, dentists and some guys who hacked the point system.

  2. John Guest

    Emirates Business class is good but other competitor airlines are not far behind.

  3. Ms. Lalitha Guest

    I'd flown Emirates Business on a recent holiday to Germany and here are my observations: 1. Seat was comfy and with tons of leg room. It wasn't very wide and more well rounded passengers may find it a bit narrow, widthwise. 2. I think Emirates has 3 configurations of A380 (did I learn that here? :) and I'm pretty sure I flew all 3 variants. Slight differences (footrest, space below the TV screen) but just...

    I'd flown Emirates Business on a recent holiday to Germany and here are my observations: 1. Seat was comfy and with tons of leg room. It wasn't very wide and more well rounded passengers may find it a bit narrow, widthwise. 2. I think Emirates has 3 configurations of A380 (did I learn that here? :) and I'm pretty sure I flew all 3 variants. Slight differences (footrest, space below the TV screen) but just enough that you can feel the improvements in the successive versions 3. Lovely food overall except for some beef roulade (Dubai to Germany) which was tough and leathery.The croissants were utterly butterly divine and are only serve during breakfast so make sure you get them while they're being served. Croissants reminded me of the ones I've eaten in Parisian cafes and hands down left me swooning in my seat. I'm Indian but not a great fan of Indian food; that being said, the veg Indian meal from Dubai to India was light, restrained, delicious and not drowning in masala 4. Amenity kit (all Bvlgari) was on my Germany to Dubai leg, only. 5. Warm nuts not served from India to Dubai but were from Dubai to Germany, Germany to Dubai and Dubai to India. Warm nuts--the assortment and flavours--varied by sector. Salted cashews and macadamia nuts from Dubai to Germany and Germany to Dubai, cashews coated in masala for Dubai to India. I observed the localisation and appreciated their eye for details. 5. Staff was fantastic on the Dubai to Germany sector and the Dubai to India sector. When the lead cabin attendant introduced herself to me, I shook her hand and thanked her in advance for her help; she smiled and said no one had ever shaken her hand before. Emirates is one of my favourite airlines.

  4. Trevor Guest

    Some others mentioned , the difference in cost, miles and $s are a huge differentiating factor also. While I'm sure this varies depending on what deal you snag I'm sure the author could have used a good guidance based on his experience.
    E.G. "First costs typically twice the mileage points" and/or "First costs 3* the $s".

    Thanks for all the interesting articles.

  5. Dave Guest

    Emirates is okay but I still prefer the middle seat on Spirit.

  6. Jorge do Carmo Guest

    Veuve Clicquot illustrated above), and a terrible red wine which the hôtesse tried to cover its label. Not enough? A disgusting dry salmon drowned in sticky congee; and a straw tasted pastry. I felt sick, and when I got up to clean my tongue in the bar, I was told the bar was closing, one hour prior to landing in Bangkok. I wish I have flown Thai Airways, much cheaper and highly recommended. Definitively Emirates is the worst airline. Now I learnt the lesson.

  7. Jorge do Carmo Guest

    I had flown Emirates economy many times, from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, because this is the only wide -body flight on such a route. I found it disappointing as compared to Qatar, British and Turkish (departing from São Paulo, mainly concerning catering: tasteless, horrible food. On January 18th I chose to fly a Business leg: Hong Kong to Bankgok ( I flew AF 443, a couple of days later AF 188 plus a...

    I had flown Emirates economy many times, from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, because this is the only wide -body flight on such a route. I found it disappointing as compared to Qatar, British and Turkish (departing from São Paulo, mainly concerning catering: tasteless, horrible food. On January 18th I chose to fly a Business leg: Hong Kong to Bankgok ( I flew AF 443, a couple of days later AF 188 plus a return...AF 165 (award) to Paris, and much later AF442 to Rio, all Premium Economy, and much much much valued for money as the terrible EK385, seat 08G, where as I was served a low quality Champagne ( not a

  8. George Guest

    I recieved a mattress on all flight on Emirates biz.

  9. RD Member

    Hey Ben. I noticed you used Mileage Plan miles to book the EK business class flight from DXB to LAX. Maybe I am wrong when I thought this, but I thought that to book award tickets with AS miles you have to be originating somewhere in the US for it to be valid. But you booked out of DXB. Maybe I'm mistaken but what's the real truth to this?

    1. Tiffany OMAAT

      @ RD -- Most awards booked through mileage plan have to "touch" North America, but you can travel in either direction.

  10. Nikolaus Guest

    Interesting comparison. It should be said, that there is a huge difference in price between Emirates First and Business class. I really enjoyed the Emirates First Class experience for three main reasons. It was everywhere ways less crowded and queue-less, you can close the door during the flight and there is the shower-spa. Leaving the aircraft freshly showered after a long flight was a nice - and spoiling - experience. Last time, I opted for...

    Interesting comparison. It should be said, that there is a huge difference in price between Emirates First and Business class. I really enjoyed the Emirates First Class experience for three main reasons. It was everywhere ways less crowded and queue-less, you can close the door during the flight and there is the shower-spa. Leaving the aircraft freshly showered after a long flight was a nice - and spoiling - experience. Last time, I opted for Qatar Business Class on FRA-DXB, as they have really competitive prices (2200€ instead of 5.000€ Emirates First) and a brilliant product, including the Al Safwa Lounge in DOH.

  11. Jacinda Guest

    Check out their website to see how similar many of the menu items between first and business class are.

  12. DanW Guest

    EK A 380 J also gets a mattress pad. For DXB-YYZ anyway.

  13. Napa TJ Guest

    I thought Emirates business class was angled flat versus flat bed? That's a big differentiator to me if true (debating Emirates Ethiad for an upcoming Bhutan trip).

  14. Mark Guest

    I just flew EK business from SFO to Dubai r/t, and found the service quite different on the two flIghts. One was amazing, while the other was completely forgettable. Given the money we spent, full fare, I honestly don't plan to fly Emirates again. It would be worth it if it was consistently awesome, but it is not.

  15. jamie Guest

    Flew SEA-DBX business class in late November...mattresses provided, cuisine excellent, service accomodating the entire 14+ hr. flight....have been traveling over 60 years, and this was one of the very best experiences and well worth the expense!

  16. Pete Guest

    HI Lucky,

    Controversial I'm sure but...how about a review of the much derided 777 J product for completeness?

    Pete

  17. DavidWard Guest

    Just flew business class LHR-DXB-KUL. Mattresses provided on both legs, though amenity kit only from London. Agree with everything else, esp the assembly line. Qatar and Etihad both better on the service front though overall great experience.

  18. John Guest

    You get what you pay for. Emirates is the best.

    1. Lana Guest

      I am 74 yo, flying Emirates
      Business class from Sydney to Europe.
      Can't get the clear answer
      pls help,
      Can I get a good sleep ( lying down as in a bed) on a bed in a business class?
      Thank you very much!

  19. Faisal Guest

    You can actually get a mattress on EK J.

  20. Ben O New Member

    So lucky let's try to out a price on it. How much more is the value for emirates first over business say on a 6-7 hour flight. Even though I tried to drink a lot of the paradis (which was surprising good as I once hated cognac). It's hard for me to quantify the value. Personally I thought the food was better on first but still compared to the chef concept on Etihad I found...

    So lucky let's try to out a price on it. How much more is the value for emirates first over business say on a 6-7 hour flight. Even though I tried to drink a lot of the paradis (which was surprising good as I once hated cognac). It's hard for me to quantify the value. Personally I thought the food was better on first but still compared to the chef concept on Etihad I found emirates lacking.

    I've flown both and to me the upgrade is worth maybe 750- 1000 USD. I'm curious what the rest of you thinks (and lucky).

  21. Todd Gold

    @Luda

    Google "creature comfort".

    Having a place to stow personal items that are easily accessible without having to get up contributes to the overall comfort of the experience.

    1. Luda Guest

      I did Google creature comfort. It's some sort of cartoon with plastercine animals

  22. chancer Guest

    @ Luda - So you don't have to get up and down just to retrieve a laptop or purse from the overhead. Also, opening and closing those bins can be noisy and wake sleeping neighbors which passengers who dislike any sort of awkwardness might want to avoid.

  23. Nicola New Member

    My last flight in First was many years back when seats weren't yet full flat so I can't comment on the comparison. But honestly right now there's an excessive offer of premium cabins that I am not sure on how airliners can make profit. And well here we go, speaking of Emirates their profit in 2016 is down 75%. Massive. I find today's flat bed J classes extremely comfortable that I would really reduce the...

    My last flight in First was many years back when seats weren't yet full flat so I can't comment on the comparison. But honestly right now there's an excessive offer of premium cabins that I am not sure on how airliners can make profit. And well here we go, speaking of Emirates their profit in 2016 is down 75%. Massive. I find today's flat bed J classes extremely comfortable that I would really reduce the option to a three class config, having of course coach (maybe improve it as Air France did in its latest 777-300 ER), Premium Economy and Business which are so so comfortable that I can't even compare today's business with the seats of 15 years ago.

  24. speedski Guest

    @luda they totally are, the A330 VA Upper Class seats have naff all storage apart from the footstool so I spend most of the flights with them having my stuff all over the ottoman.

    The storage on the side of the A380 cabins are so handy...

  25. Credit Guest

    If you are not a big drinker or a big smelly person, business class seems to be better value.

    To complete the article who should mention the differences in the mileage required for various mileage programs and any workarounds needed to snag award seats and this article would be good enough to be a complete guide to emirates.

    Thanks for the hard work.

  26. Luda Guest

    How does a seat having good storage bins make it more comfortable? The two things are not remotely linked

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Benjamin Guest

I actually see some of the things missing in Business Class as an advantage. Turn down service for example is the first thing that I cancel at arrival of a hotel that has it included. I would never wear a pyjama in a room full of strangers. I also would never eat caviar and never drink alcohol. So whenever expensive alcohol is included in a price of a flight, I feel like subsidizing the drinking habits of others with my ticket. The same is true for Formula One Paddock Club tickets, where unlimited champagne is included. I also prefer scheduled meals, because I do not want to bother the flight crew more than necessary and I do not think that my private eating schedule would be better than the official schedule. The problem with higher flight classes often is that they serve too much food. Flying First Class or Business Class does not mean that I am more hungry than people in Economy Class. Quality of the food should separate the classes, not quantity. The problem gets worse if you already ate something in a lounge at the airport. I once told a friend how my optimal flight class would look like: First Class space, Business Class food and Economy Class service. Less service is usually better. I only choose hotels for example that have at least one entrance where nobody opens the door for me. Maybe when I am older and need more help, I will appreciate service more, but at my current age I would prefer if the crew just left me two liters of water to self serve and only contacts me for meals. The creepiest thing of many First Class and even some Business Class seats is that the crew will greet you with your name. I don't want the crew to know my name. "24 J" is good enough as a name for me during a flight. The second creepiest thing is some personal service at arrival. I love standing at the baggage carousel and waiting for my luggage. As long as I can walk on my own, I do not need anybody to get me my luggage. And please, I do not want a separate check-in line for Business and First Class passengers! I feel exposed at such a line. What bothers me a lot is that there is only one lavatory in the front of Business Class and four at the back behind the bar. I need a lavatory at least once an hour and always look at ways to hide that fact. Of course it is nothing to be ashamed of, but it still is something I prefer to keep private, because I still often get strange looks if I use the toilet very frequently. If four of five toilets are only accessible through the bar, that makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Even Economy Class has more privacy in that regard. I still hope that one day an airline will mix seats of all classes. That would be the optimal solution for people like me who just want more space than in Economy Class, but without all the bling and the extra service. Somebody else might be okay with the Economy Class space, but might want better food and extra services at the airport. I also would prefer to be surrounded by average people during my flight and not just business people, dentists and some guys who hacked the point system.

0
John Guest

Emirates Business class is good but other competitor airlines are not far behind.

0
Lana Guest

I am 74 yo, flying Emirates Business class from Sydney to Europe. Can't get the clear answer pls help, Can I get a good sleep ( lying down as in a bed) on a bed in a business class? Thank you very much!

0
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published